What: While this Beaux-Arts beauty looks formal—its vaulted lobby features white-gray marble, sculpted ornamental plaster on the walls, and a glass ceiling painted with muses and other mythological creatures—The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville has a relaxed vibe. At this Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, complimentary housemade cookies and fresh-squeezed lemonade are offered in the lobby; the concierge readily recommends spots for the city’s best barbecue; and diners routinely wear denim at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant, Capitol Grille. The 123 spacious guest rooms and suites are also cozy and traditional with warm wood furniture, but they’re stocked with high-tech amenities such as flat-screen TVs in the bathrooms.
Where: A 15-minute drive from Nashville International Airport, The Hermitage has a convenient central downtown location. If you’re in town on business, it’s only several blocks from the Nashville Convention Center and the state capitol. For those on vacation, the luxury hotel is near the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Honky Tonk Row on Lower Broadway and Music Row, where hundreds of record labels, radio stations and RCA Studio B are located around 16th and 17th avenues.
When: Opened in 1910, this Nashville hotel is steeped in history. In 1920, the hotel served as headquarters for both pro- and anti-suffrage forces in Tennessee, and it was Nashville’s social hot spot during the ’30s and ’40s. Six presidents have stayed here through the years as have Bette Davis, Greta Garbo and even Al Capone. In 2003, the hotel invested $17 million into restoring the interior to its former glory, and was awarded its Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star status in 2007. The best times to visit The Hermitage are the fall and spring, when the weather is nice enough to let you explore downtown by foot or check out Centennial Park near Vanderbilt (head here in mid-October to get a glimpse of the leafy autumn colors). Die-hard country fans should hit Nashville in early summer; you might battle high humidity but it’s worth it to catch the 400-plus musicians who perform at the CMA Music Festival every June.
Why: The Hermitage is Tennessee’s only Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel, partly because of the amiable, attentive service and beautiful facilities. Don’t miss the lime green-and-black-striped Art Deco men’s room outside of the Oak Bar—it’s been named one of America’s best bathrooms. And the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Capitol Grille (you may recognize it from its cameo on the TV show Nashville) also helps make it a winner. Chef Tyler Brown is so serious about his upscale, sustainable Southern fare that the hotel recently bought a 245-acre farm to raise heritage cattle and grow its own vegetables and fruit. But this go-local ethos is practiced throughout the nearly 103-year-old hotel. Its bold logo and your personalized in-room stationery come from Hatch Show Print, a Nashville letterpress shop that designed posters for Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Garth Brooks; jewelry made by local artisans lines the hotel gift shop’s shelves; and guest rooms offer Nashville Symphony CDs and documentaries on preserving Southern cuisine. It’s all so hip for such a historic hotel.
Photos Courtesy of The Hermitage Hotel